|Winning the 1981 Wellington 1500m Championship|
I was still living in Paraparaumu at the time which meant I was getting up at 5:45 a.m. for a morning jog and doing another run after about 6:30 p.m. I was nothing but tired. However, the summer wasn't so bad as, with daylight saving, it stayed light enough to get some running in that wasn't on the roads.
By this stage I had formulated a fairly straight up Lydiard program which meant piling on the miles through to December, followed by four weeks which included hill drills twice a week, then another four weeks of anaerobic work (also twice a week) and a couple of weeks sharpening and freshening. I also liked to race every weekend (whereas Lydiard would do time trials). By the end of 1980 I had managed to shake off the shin splints that plagued the previous season and the training was going pretty well.
Keith Livingstone had moved down from Auckland at the end of the winter season and had won the 16km Road Champs, much to Dave Hatfield's dismay as he had thought that without Derek Froude in the field he may have put an end to his string of second places. At the end of 1980 there was an international meeting held as a consolation for those who didn't get to go to the Olympic Games because of the boycott. Keith was selected to run in the 5000m.
Keith didn't appear in one of the earlier meetings of the season where I won an 800m/5000m double but the next week he was there for the 1500. I got terribly nervous before the race but once underway things were OK. Keith was obviously pretty confident in his own speed so let me lead at the pace of my choosing, which was a pretty relaxed 65 seconds for the first lap. This wasn't good enough for Keith and he took over and upped the pace, leaving the entire field, except me, behind. I sprinted past him in the last 100m to and won the race in 3:56.2. Not a stunning time but not a bad opener for the season.
A couple of weeks later Keith changed his tactics. This time he went out fast from the gun, going through 800m in 2:03 but he still couldn't shake me. I overtook him with 300m to go this time and, thanks to his great pace setting, finished with a personal best of 3:51.3. The next race was like a different day, same story, I just wouldn't let him beat me and he tried many ways. But each week I would go to the track and feel sick with nerves. So much so that I considered giving it away but I decided to stick it out for the season then see if I still felt like continuing after that.
I had a good win at the Dorrie Leslie meeting in Christchurch where, after leading the race for two laps, I let Dave McDonald and Bruce Hunter take over, only to outsprint them down the home straight. I ran the last 300m in 41 seconds.
In the Wellington Champs 1500m I was happy to follow Alastair Leslie and kick home for the win in 3:56.4. Keith didn't run in the 1500m champs, preferring to save himself for the 5000m. Unfortunately for him this would be the day when Dave Hatfield broke his run of seconds. Dave sat on Keith as they burned off the rest of the field and produced an almighty sprint in the home straight to win in 14:23.1. I was beaten into second place in the 800m by Brian Turnbull who had a habit of running an opening lap in around 52 seconds (quicker than my fastest 400) and holding on. I did run a PB of 1:54.7 but was more than two seconds down.
So by the end of the season I was no longer getting the nerves before races. Being unbeaten (at least in Wellington and Christchurch) over 1500m meant that the nervousness was supplanted by a certain arrogance and I could shift focus and chase times rather than victories.